Learning History of African Americans at Lakeland

Emi Tsuji, Staff Reporter

The new courses, HIS 150/350: History of African Americans, will be offered in Spring 2021 and will be taught by Steven Anthony, the first African American professor at Lakeland.   

In the new courses, students are going to learn the in-depth history of African Americans from 1619, the landing of the first Africans in English North America, to the modern era, including the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements. This course is planned to be held through Blackboard Collaborate from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

The new professor and the first African American professor at Lakeland, Steven Anthony, is going to teach these courses. Before joining Lakeland, he taught American History courses at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. The upcoming spring 2021 semester will be his first time teaching American history purely focusing on African Americans.  

“I hope that students go away with a better understanding and a more nuanced understanding of American history. The person would be at ease having conversations as relates to the African American experience and an American issue,” Anthony stated.   

Anthony also described his enthusiasm for teaching more African American studies in Lakeland. “The hope is that this curse can be used as a springboard to the development of more advanced courses, maybe some seminars and colloquia at a later date. That would be an ideal situation for me to be able to have additional course offerings at a point in the future.”  

The idea of this course came up from students who hope to create Lakeland as a more diverse community. Brice Kensey, a senior, and his fellow students brought up the idea that Lakeland should have African American studies courses. He attended several meetings with faculty and contributed to designing the rough draft of the course syllabus with the help of Peter Sattler, a professor of American literature and chair of interdisciplinary studies.  

“The idea of having a black professor who taught African American studies was to eliminate ignorance about our society today and to become more diverse within the Lakeland University makeup. I believe that Lakeland is going in the right direction and hopefully this is the beginning of many more improvements. I believe that the time to have this class is far overdue. To know that this class was asked for in the past, and now we were the ones to get it done, it is an amazing feeling,” Kensey stated. 

Jasmine Smith, a former president of the Black Student Union and who also contributed to the creation of this course, highly valued having courses about African American studies, especially in the ongoing BLM social movement. “It was and is crucial to have an African American history class and a Black professor teaching that class. We live in an era where people tend to be ignorant and uneducatedWhose better to tell the story than someone who can speak from first-hand experience or the fact that it is their story. It’s our story and we will tell it truthfully and to the core.” Smith said. “We’re making history. If not now, then when? And if not us, then who?”